Leitrim County Manager, Jackie Maguire has admitted that she is very concerned over the continuing decline in the collection of commercial rates over the past 12 months.
Speaking at Monday’s Council meeting, Ms Maguire said that the collection rate for Co Leitrim had fallen from 72 percent in 2011 to 64 percent in 2012.
She added that the Council had not struck off as many debts last year as they had in 2011 and said that despite a number of payment plans being in force for businesses throughout the county, there was a substantial shortfall in the amount brought into the Council coffers.
“The fact that collection rates have fallen by a further 8 percent in the last 12 months speaks for itself. This figure is deteriorating year on year and the affect this is having on Leitrim County Council’s cash flow is now begining to become quite apparent,” she said.
“Simply put we need the funds that this brings in. It is our major source of funding along with the Local Government funds and the fact that the collection rate is continuing to drop is a matter of great concern.”
Councillors slammed the high valuations set out by the Valuations Office and called for a major overhaul of the system.
They also slammed the lengthy delays and high costs involved in appealing current valuations with one councillor noting a business had appealed a rate and the appeal had simply resulted in the confirmation of the original, extremely high, rate of valuation on the property.
Councillors warned that unless major changes were brought into play more and more businesses would be forced to close their doors in the coming year.
They said that a payment based on profit rather than square footage would be a much more equitable system.
The County Manager said the Valuations Office was looking at changing the current system and she said the Council would contact them for an update on the current status of this review.